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Monday, December 14, 2009

Strike That, Reverse It.

Today, this happened. British Airways: Union Announces Strike

In 11 days, Mike and I are scheduled to be on a flight to Paris... on British Airways.

We bought our tickets well before November 2... there wasn't a union cloud in the sky then...

We're currently in limbo. Not officially canceled yet, so we can't rebook. Not officially cleared for flight, so we're not sure what to plan for.

In general, I support unions - I think they offer an ability to provide a safety-in-numbers net to protect the weakest members of the workforce when real abuse of labor is an issue driven by a insatiable drive for profit. In most situations in recent history and the strikes that have affected my day-to-day life, I've found it pretty easy to side with the folks doing the walk-out.

Unfortunately, in this situation I'm finding it difficult to back the employees in this decision when industry standards across the board indicate that these changes are not a threat to their health and safety and do not constitute an unfair work environment. The decisions that BA has made also do not appear to be driven by much else than to stay afloat under the current circumstances. I don't get the feeling - even in reading through the union's releases - that BA is doing something underhanded.

In my industry, layoffs have forced me to take on 3 times as much work with no additional compensation, no promises of bonuses and no pay raise in the coming year. We're fighting to stay afloat. I want us to stay afloat. It's not fun, but it's also not inhumane.

If airline industry standards are too low to constitute a healthy work environment or if industry standards were so low that all unionized airline attendants agreed they needed better, I likely would have supported a strike in which every unionized airline attendant would have participated, but they don't have that backing.

I get it. It sucks that you have one less person on a long flight where people are total douche bags who sneeze on you, don't say please or thank you and now everyone has to do a bit more work to cover for that. And I get that it sucks to not get your regularly expected pay raise or bonus. We all get it, because we're all dealing with it right now. Your biggest punch in the gut was to your customer - particularly me (the easiest person to get to hop on board with your labor dispute or any other hippie emotional cause.) I get it... but how about you don't pick the holidays to protest, and you wait for the trial date to get the law behind you (if they agree with you then the public will support you!) I'm finding it very hard to imagine how anyone at all wins here.

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